Posted by: Joe English | April 21, 2010

Training — Why did my second 20 miler go wrong?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

A reader name Ashley writes in with the following question:

“I am running in my first full marathon on May 2nd (The Flying Pig in Cincinnati). I have previously done a fair number of 10Ks and half marathons and attempted a training schedule that was a bit ambitious, but I did complete all the prescribed distances until this week! I was scheduled to do two 20 mile training runs. The first went amazing; I ran a great time, consistent pace, felt tired at the end, but like I could go a few more on race day. This week I did my second 20 miler and could barely finish! I did the whole distance, but walked twice, once between mile 17 and 18 and again between 18 and 19. I had so much confidence before, and today it’s all gone! Is this just my body’s way of saying it’s time for a taper? Surely I am ready for the race, but would like some expert advice about what’s going on!”

You’re probably right Ashley when you summarize your situation: “surely I am ready for the race,” so rest easy as you move from your training into the pre-race recovery or taper portion of your training. I can tell you what most likely happen to make that second miler feel like such a wreck.

First, I’d like to congratulate you on making it so far through your training toward your first marathon. And, I’d also like to add that making it through that first 20 miler in a way that felt “amazing” is a bit of a miracle and you should feel really good about that. Most first-time marathon runners don’t have such a good experience in their first 20-miler — there are so many problems that I’ve actually written a piece that I encourage all of my runners to read called “first time marathon runner 20-miler anguish“. Those 20 milers are a definitely a challenge.

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